Shao-Lyn – founder of Eats, Shoots & Roots, a company that empowers urbanites with the skills to grow their own food. They design and build edible gardens for individuals, organizations and communities.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
One of the biggest successes is the garden we built for a children foundation called Dignity for Children. It’s a foundation that gives education to refugee kids or children from underprivileged home which cannot afford to go to public schools, because they don’t have ID or for any other reason. The garden is commissioned by the foundation and they run the class to maintain the garden every week.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
Get people to maintain gardens. Building the garden is easy but finding people who help maintain other people’s gardens is more difficult. It also requires some training, so we do train young people to work in this field. But it’s not very successful right now.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
Bigger network of gardeners, more and more people going on this journey with us. There is a lot of development going on and if we can convince developers to at least turn into real eco-friendly development, that would be the big step for us. Kuala Lumpur went through a lot of changes in the last 30-40 years, all happened very fast. I would like to see Kuala Lumpur taking a step back and think more what they are actually developing and trying to integrate things. If we can influence those kind of people, people who work in politics, have money to do all those projects, that would be a big success.
Would you like to add something else?
Eats, Shoots & Roots has been around for more than 4 years. When we started we wanted to run a lot of permaculture courses, as we also wanted to learn. We started as a loose organization, running courses. After that we decided we wanted a space on our own, it was important for us to experiment, so we found our actual place, with an office and the gardens around. We run workshops with experienced people, so meanwhile we could learn and build this space, a win-win situation. Since then we evolved and became in a line with social entrepreneurship. It wasn’t really the initial goal. The initial goal was to learn and implement rules of permaculture. After we run our courses we realized people are looking for gardening supplies and they couldn’t find them, so we decided to work on it. Then people asked us to build gardens for them, so we started to do landscaping as well. It evolved based on the people we come across, people interested in gardening and growing their own food. Good evolution.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Singapore, 22nd May, 2016